Cancelled 'Turkey Shoot' has people crying government overreach

More than 1,000 people shared Donnie Byroads' video on Facebook.

LA PLATA, MD (WUSA9) - Donnie Byroads said he just wanted to put on a fun, family event behind his bar and grill, Ollie's, in LaPlata, Maryland. But, he said Charles County officials shut down his "turkey shoot." 

To be clear, Byroads said the turkey shoot didn't mean people were going to be shooting turkeys. Participants use shotguns and what's called birdshot to shoot at paper targets. The winner was going to take home a prize. He said it's an age-old tradition in Charles County.

"It's really like country boy bingo," he added.

Byroads held his first turkey shoot in early November. He had another scheduled, but the county stepped in. 

He decided to post a video on Facebook to let people know. He said he didn't expect the video to go viral.

It's been viewed more than 67,000 times and shared more than 1,000 times. The overwhelming majority of people who commented are on Donnie's side, saying turkey shoots are a tradition and the local government should butt out.

One commenter said it was an overreach of government. Another asked, "What right will they strip of you next if you just shrug your shoulders at this?"

In fact, so many comments were flowing in, Donnie said he had to "shut off my notifications because my phone was just vibrating and dinging."

"They've been having turkey shoots in this county for years," said Tony Powell, who lives in Charles County and is a customer at Ollie's. "My parents used to take me. And all of my friends' parents used to take their kids. It's been nothing but a great asset to the whole county."

WUSA9 spoke to a representative from Charles County government, who said if turkey shoots have been going on, they don't know about it.

They say you've needed a Special Exception Code since 1992 to hold a turkey shoot. That's because "a negative impact could take place such as noise, traffic, vibration, dust, or visual." It requires an application, and the fee starts at $1,242. They said that covers the cost for the staff to review the application and to advertise for a public hearing.

Byroads said filling out the application and paying the fee doesn't guarantee they'll even grant you permission. He said the whole process could take months. 

"I think the county handled it totally wrong," added Powell.

So, for now, the shoot is off, but the support is on. Online, many people are talking turkey about the county's commissioners.

Byroads said people can support turkey shoots with their next vote.

"We're not far away from other elections and stuff that's coming up, so if they don't, I think there's enough people in Charles County that we'll fix it ourselves."

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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